The Invasive Species of the Walking Catfish

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Walking Catfish

Clarias Batrachus, commonly referred to as the Walking Catfish, is one of Floridas many invasive species. These fish have a long body, a wide anterior, and a slender rear. With small eyes and villiform teeth, the coloration of these fish ranges from dark brown or purple to black (with white specks on their rear and gray green fins). The Walking Catfish is highly variable in structure and is one of the few species in which an albino variety exists.

Biologically, these fish possess a large accessory-breathing organ, which enables them to breath atmospheric oxygen. They are very well known for their ability to walk on land for long distances, especially during or immediately following rainfall. This species is found in all types of water, but is more common in turbid, muddy, and swampy waters. The Walking catfish is a tropical species with a moderate tolerance to colder waters. During cold dry months, these catfish burrow into the sides of ponds and streams where they remain dormant until the spring rains initiate.

Walking catfish were originally introduced to Florida by means of an accidental release from Penagra Aquariums, west of Deerfield Beach in Broward county, during the mid 1960’s. The escaped specimens were from a brood that originated in Thailand. An angler caught the first specimen reported from open waters on the 15th of March of 1967. Walking catfish remain one of the most notorious and harmful non-indigenous species in the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

Since its introduction in the 1960s, the species has rapidly expanded its range throughout Florida.

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It is a voracious predator feeding opportunistically on what is available. Effects on native fishes are especially apparent in small wetland pools during the dry season, where walking catfish can quickly become the dominant species. Native centrarchids and catfishes appear to be the most affected. This species has been reported to kill large bass without subsequently eating them. It has been predicted that walking catfish would expand their range to occupy three/fourths of the state of Florida, due to its high fecundity, its ability to migrate on land and withstand desiccation, and the favorable conditions present in Florida.

I cannot foresee humans being able to go out and catch many of the catfish in order to control the problem. Theres a possibility that science could play some sort of role here by creating a poison that would not harm any species except the Walking catfish. But I imagine the best solution would lie in finding a natural predator of the species and introducing them into the area (controlled in some way so they dont simply overlap the previous invasive species).

Although I cannot think of a full proof solution off the top of my head, I can tell you that it only it only takes one person to let a species like the Walking catfish to be introduced into an area. As individuals, we must learn and become aware of the dangers that are created when introducing a new species into an unfamiliar environment. It only takes one individual to research something until a solution or cure is reached. Hopefully scientists will be able to come up with a solution to the problems that the Walking Catfish has brought about.

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The Invasive Species of the Walking Catfish. (2022, Mar 09). Retrieved from

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